Top Foods That Cause Plaque—and Cavities


I’m teaching my two-year-old how to brush her teeth. She only has seven teeth, and her “brushing” isn’t very effective (if I walk away, she attempts to brush the floor… yep, we toss a lot of toothbrushes away). However, it’s critical to not just clean her baby teeth but also to set her on a lifetime of good dental habits.

We all have bacteria in our mouths (gross, but real), and they feed on sugars found in certain meals and beverages. When this happens, bacteria build a transparent, sticky coating on your teeth called plaque, especially if you don’t remove the sugars of your teeth. While plaque formation is a normal process, if it is not removed while it is still sticky/soft, it hardens, making removal more difficult. Plaque and tartar (hardened plaque) emit acids that destroy tooth enamel and provide a hiding place for bacteria, all of which contribute to the development of cavities over time.

You may brush and floss regularly, but you may be unaware that certain eating habits are still harming your teeth:


The stickier the food, the longer it can cause damage: The length of time teeth are exposed to sugars is an essential determinant for damage, according to Praneetha Kumar, DMD, dentist at Powers Ferry Family Dentistry in Atlanta. Sticky sweets (which can stick to the teeth or become lodged in small crevices, leaving the tooth exposed for longer) are one of the main reasons.

Crunchy/flaky foods can get trapped: When your dentist urges you to “keep to crunchy foods” for better dental health, she means carrots, not chips and crackers. These starchy meals can break down into small bits that, like sticky candies, become stuck between teeth and contain germs, causing plaque and dental rot.

Sugary drinks: Citrus fruit drinks are examples of sugary drinks. They may be beneficial to the body, but they are not so beneficial to the teeth. Acid exposure of any form can affect the enamel of the teeth, causing decay. Citrus fruits that aren’t sweetened are a great source of vitamins, minerals, and fiber. You don’t have to avoid them completely, but you should drink enough water afterward to flush out the acid. Do you believe you should brush straight away? Dr. Kumar claims that brushing with hard, abrasive toothpaste or bristle brushes immediately after consuming acidic beverages can cause additional damage because the enamel is porous right after drinking. It’s preferable to use water or sugar-free gum to neutralize the acid first.”


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